|One of the five pontoon bridges being laid across the Rappahannock|
The History of the 36th Regiment tells us this:
After shelling failed to dislodge the Rebel forces from the city, five pontoon bridges were laid and the order was given to cross and advance on the city. W.B.'s unit was part of the Ninth Corps. under General Burns.
"That morning, several divisions of the Ninth Corps. were early in line; and as they reached the Fredericksburg side of the river, they were placed in position to the left of Sumner's Grand Division, and just below the city. In crossing, a few men were killed by the enemy's shells that fell short of our batteries at which they were aimed. Two men of the Thirty-Sixth were in this way slightly wounded.
That night we moved up into the city, and stacking guns spent the night on the sidewalk and in the deserted homes in rear of the guns. Early on the morning of December 13th, preparations were made for the approaching battle. Burns' division of the Ninth Corps., to which our brigade belonged, was assigned to a position below the city. There, across Hazel's Run, behind a rise of ground, we remained under arms in reserve, listening to the roar of artillery and musketry as the battle raged along the line from left to right expecting every minute to be called to participate in the terrible conflict; but no orders came until afternoon when we moved further down the river, crossed Deep Run and were placed in front of the Barnard House covering the lower pontoon bridge. At dark, the 36th moved forward and supported a battery in front of the Sligo House."
There was apparently a plan to engage the Ninth Corps. in battle the following day, but it was abandoned. The army advanced into the city and found it deserted. To the great disappointment of the men, they fell back to their previous encampment.
|Map of the Battle showing the position of the 36th Massachusetts|
Here is W.B.'s account:
December 15, 1862
It is Sunday noon and I am sitting on the wharf of the Rappahannock. The bank of the river is crowded with troops and stacks of arms. We are having a terrible battle. It commenced on Wednesday at 6 o'clock in the morning and this is the fourth day. The firing has been less for two hours but I don't know but it will be resumed again worse than ever. We are in the possession of the City. We encamped in the city night before last and stayed on the floor of a little shanty in the yard of a nice rebel mansion. The buildings are completely riddled with shells and some are burned. The city is worse than burned. Oh the horrors of war no one can imagine unless they see it. I will give you an account of my experience of the battle. We were ordered to be ready to march at 8 o'clock Wednesday morning without knapsack. We formed our brigade just before our camp and stood until most sundown. We marched down towards the city about 3/4 of a mile and then turned about and marched back to our old camp and pitched our tents and stayed until morning. We were then ordered to fall in about daylight and started for the City. We crossed the pontoon bridges onto the wharf about where we are today and stayed there until dark and then we marched up on to the street and stayed until morning. We then started and marched about half a mile out and stood until most night. We were then ordered to fall in. We double quicked it a little farther through the mud and were drawn up in line of battle and stood until dark and then laid down on the ground until half past two. We then started and marched through the mud and water I suppose several miles and formed in line and were ordered to lay close on the ground expecting every moment a shell would come over. We laid until it begun to be light. We were then ordered to march back to where we lay the day before which proved to be about a hundred rods. We stayed long enough to make a little coffee. We were then ordered to fall in and marched double-quick to where we are now. I have not spoke of the firing. We have not fired a gun in the 36th Regiment yet but there has been a continual roar of canon and popping of musket shot but the shells have been flying over our heads the whole time and some burst near us. One piece came within a rod of me and some were wounded in sight of me. Most sundown. We are laying here yet and I must finish my letter as the chaplain is ready to take the letters.
From your husband,
W. B. Rogers
Seven years ago this month, I began writing this blog. I had done just enough genealogy to discover a few things about Winslow Brainard and his family. There are still some mysteries to be uncovered. I hope this inspires my readers to delve into their own family stories.
Happy Blogiversary to me!
Happy Blogiversary to me!